As some readers will know, as well as photographing the dragonflies and damselflies that I encounter throughout the year, I also have a fascination with the nymphs of the various species that occur in my local area. From studying to photographing them, I have spent many hours learning about them and their habits but one local species over the past few years has managed to elude me as far as trying to rear through to emergence. I have photographed the Banded Demoiselle nymph a number of times but living in slow moving rivers and streams, this is a challenge I have not taken up lightly at home for obvious reasons. Having looked through the internet at lots of photos, I was somewhat amazed to find as far as I can see, there were no photos of the Banded Demoiselle emerging. This has really prompted me to try to fill this gap and capture this moment. So this year, I decided to rise up to the challenge and so armed with wellies, nets, bucket and a white observation tray, I have spent a few hours at the local stream collecting mud, food items, reeds, river water, weed and a few well grown nymphs. I purchased a new tank which I have tried to recreate the stream in, adding the mud, water and weed over a period of days and also a pump to recreate the flow of the stream. With the scene set, a few nymphs were introduced to see how they would adapt to the tank and also give me the chance to study this species under the water. It was not so much a photography tank but if any opportunities arose, I would try to get a few shots. The first few weeks went very well and it was interesting watching them acting like a Jack Snipe by 'bouncing' up and down as they walked along the bottom of the tank but one concern I had was what were they eating to survive? More hours of observing happened and then on one occasion, I saw a nymph with a cased Caddis larvae which seemingly make their homes out of bits of twig and grass to live in. The nymph was slowly biting its way through the casing until it finally got its reward to eat. The first time I have seen this and although common i'm sure, something I have not read about or ever observed. I have since purposefully returned to the stream to collect more of these cased caddis larvae and have seen the Demoiselle nymphs hunting and eating them a few times more. Continued checking of the tank has also produced a few moulted skins on the surface and looking in the tank has found the 'ghost' like nymphs which haven't coloured up yet which certainly look quite spectacular. This has provided a few brief photo opportunities for me during the evenings. As far as the emergence will go, I really don't know yet. I have some potted up reeds on which they can emerge but am unsure whether they will emerge during daylight or darkness. I would hope that through the hours of observations, that I will have the opportunity to capture this rare moment but I suppose time will tell. Hopefully in due coarse, I will bring you some more updates and fingers crossed for a few emergence shots.
'Newly Moulted' Banded Demoiselle Nymph